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Inspiring Conversations with Vanessalynne Hattar of Omáge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vanessalynne Hattar.

Hi Vanessalynne, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I’ve always had a love for fashion since I was a little girl, but I never seriously considered pursuing it as a career until my early 20’s. I was working in the corporate world and just wasn’t happy, it felt so constricting and I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life on a structured schedule. I had one of those soul-searching moments where I thought about what I really enjoyed and fashion kept coming to the forefront. I finally quit my job and enrolled in fashion school, but while I was in school for fashion design, my career in fashion actually began as a wardrobe stylist. I worked mainly with private clients, and this is when I really understood the idea of one’s closet being seen as an investment and almost like their personal collection of art and functional clothing. After overhauling so many wardrobes of useless pieces for my client after they wore it only once or twice, I was inspired to create clothing that wouldn’t just sit in someone’s closet collecting dust. I aspired to create clothing that was not only unique but that can be worn day or night, season after season.

After a few years as a personal stylist, and once I left fashion school, I kind of fell into creating custom wedding dresses which was short-lived – I didn’t feel like it was where my creativity thrived. I began designing ready-to-wear collections which felt more like home and officially started my namesake brand in spring of 2015, beginning with a capsule ready-to-wear collection under VANESSALYNNE. I created women’s advanced contemporary clothing, focusing more on dresses but collections expanded to full range with up to 30 pieces. Sustainability and reducing waste has always been at the forefront of my mind when creating and I really love working with our artisans throughout California. So VANESSALYNNE was all handmade in San Francisco, always produced in limited quantities and never restocking when selling out to ensure that we never carried excess stock or waste.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely has not been the smoothest road, but I feel like every challenge or failure I encountered was necessary for me to grow and to learn. When I first started my namesake brand VANESSALYNNE, I had zero experience – I never worked or interned under a fashion house. Everything was brand new to me, I jumped two feet in without really knowing what I was doing. From running a business, creating patterns for entire collections, working with a sample maker and manufacturer to sourcing fabric from mills overseas – not to mention having to simultaneously build a brand story and identity; I was learning it all as I went along. While there was a lot of stress, sleepless nights and plenty of trials and errors, it definitely gave me the confidence in myself and my work by learning through my own experiences.

However, the biggest obstacle I ever encountered in my career was last year. When the pandemic first hit us in California in March 2020, we were all forced into lockdown within the first few weeks. I was getting ready to release my Spring/Summer 20’ Collection for VANESSALYNNE and had to move my entire atelier home in order to remain fully operational. This worked for the most part and we were able to stay afloat. Then in August 2020 the unthinkable happened, my entire home caught on fire and burned down and I lost everything. Since I had moved my entire business to work from home, I essentially also lost my life’s work. All of my hard copy pattern archives, sample archives, my laptop and external hard drives, fabric, designs, tools, sewing machines, stock of my next collection and current collection – it was all gone. I walked away that day with pretty much the clothes on my back. To say I was devastated was an understatement, my whole sense of identity and purpose was shattered. Everything I worked so hard toward for years in building VANESSALYNNE was gone in minutes, right before my eyes.

Rebuilding from that huge loss last year and trying to find the motivation to begin anew has been one of the toughest challenges of not just my career but my entire life. I struggled for a while to even consider myself a fashion designer since I no longer felt I had anything to show for, it was the first time in my entire career that I seriously considered quitting. The idea of starting from the ground up again was so intimidating, I had no inspiration and I felt my creativity drying up.

It wasn’t until my longtime friend Andrea Cisternino approached me with an idea back in December. She asked me if I could create the perfect robe for her since she was having a hard time finding one that checked off all the boxes of what she was looking for. For someone who also lives in a robe when home, I agreed that while I was lounging, I wanted a robe that made me still feel glamorous while staying comfortable and remaining functional. Once this idea took hold, all kinds of visions and design features began cropping up in my mind, and for the first time in months I began to feel excited again. From this, Andrea and I partnered, and six months later Omáge was birthed. The name was inspired by the French pronunciation of (the word) hommage, Omáge was created as an ode to honor ourselves while honoring others.

With this next chapter, I aspired to create a brand that was still luxury but accessible and completely sustainable without compromising the feel or design. I wanted to give my clients something they can feel comfortable and beautiful in – that wasn’t high maintenance and will stay with them for years to come. It was important to me that I continued to support our local artisans (who especially have all been deeply affected by this pandemic) by still having everything handmade in California. Our signature robes are manufactured in Los Angeles, CA and we use our remnants for our accessories collection but have them handcrafted by our artisans in San Francisco. We officially launched June of this year, just a few months short of the one year anniversary of the fire. It definitely still has been a rollercoaster and Omáge has come with its own set of challenges and obstacles; fortunately I’ve been able to draw from the wealth of experience and knowledge I gained from VANESSALYNNE to help navigate. But to be honest, I’ve accepted that the highs and lows will always be a part of the process – I’m just grateful to get back to doing what I love.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Omáge is a sustainable luxury brand based out of San Francisco with pieces manufactured in Los Angeles as well as in the Bay Area. Our mission is to make uncompromisingly sustainable yet thoughtfully designed seasonless essentials. Handcrafted pieces that not only look good but fit well and feel incredibly opulent. By manufacturing locally, producing in limited quantities, and using only the finest quality natural and low impact fibres, we aim to give our customers designs that are made in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

Our signature and print robes are all created from mills that are Oeko-Tex certified which means the use of chemicals used in the production process is controlled. It also ensures that there are no harmful substances remaining in the end product which could irritate/damage the skin or when washed, release any harmful residues. We use 100% Lyocell fibers which is a completely sustainable fabric made from renewable raw wood and it is 100% biodegradable and compostable. There are so many ideal components to this textile, especially to use for our daily essentials, this fabric has by far become one of my favorites to work with.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
A few of my favorite books: Four agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Mastery by Robert Greene

Podcasts: Dax Shepard, Tim Ferris and the Business of Fashion are among my most listened to.

Another resource that I have found extremely helpful for me is a collective I am a part of called The 10th House, which is a subdivision of the Female Founders Collective. I absolutely love hearing what other founders have gone through on their journey, especially the things that worked and didn’t work for them.

Pricing:

  • The “Gia” Robe from our Women’s Signature Collection – $290
  • The “Bianca” Robe from our Women’s Signature Collection – $290
  • The “Penelope” Robe from our Women’s Print Collection – $288 paired with our handcrafted “Penelope” Ruched Headband made from our remnants – $75
  • The “James” Robe from our Men’s Signature Collection – $290
  • Our Classic Scrunchie, all handcrafted from our remnants – $25

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Personal Photos/Photos of me: Photographer: Garrick Wong Set Styling Assistant: Janae Armas Hair & Makeup: Sophia Nawabi Photos of models in Omáge: Photographer: Donerik De la Cruz Makeup: Yanina Miller Models: Stars Management

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